Is it important to protect your hearing when shooting? The infographic below tells about the dangers of high-intensity sound and what ear protection to use against it.
In this article:
- Protecting the Shooter’s Ear
- Different Noises in Decibels
- Signs of Hearing Damage
- Hearing Protection Options
Protect Your Hearing When Shooting
Protecting the Shooter’s Ear
Every hunter and shooter knows how to practice proper gun safety in order to protect themselves and those around them from accident or injury. But one thing that often goes overlooked is ear protection.
Shooting guns without ear protection — and especially doing so frequently, or for long periods of time — will at best cause an uncomfortable sensation and ringing in the ear. Your ear feels clogged after shooting.
At worst, it can cause permanent hearing damage. This is why it is so important to wear ear protection when shooting.
The infographic below from The Smoking Barrel explains the reasons why you need ear protection for shooting, as well as how to best protect your ears.
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Different Noises in Decibels
What is Decibel (dB)? The unit used to measure the intensity of a sound.
Here are several examples of common loud noises you can compare with the sound of gunfire.
- People’s conversation – 60 dB
- Chainsaw – 110 dB
- Police/ambulance siren – 120 dB
- Jet taking off – 140 dB
- 12-gauge shotgun – 156 dB
- .38 special – 158 dB
- 9mm Pistol – 160 dB
Signs of Hearing Damage
Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound the shorter the amount of time it takes for noise-induced hearing loss to happen.
For unprotected ears, the allowed exposure time by one half for each 5 dB increase in the average noise level. For instance, exposure is limited to 8 hours per day at 90 dB, 4 hours per day at 95 dB, and 2 hours per day at 100 dB.
Look out for these signs of hearing damage:
- Muffling of sound
- Difficulty distinguishing words when people talk to you
- Difficulty determining from which direction a sound is coming
- Tinnitus, ringing or buzzing noise in your ear after exposure to noise
Hearing Protection Options
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the amount of protection a hearing protection device provides in a noisy environment. NRR is the decibel reduction provided by hearing protection.
Consider these devices to help protect your hearing against loud noises:
- Earplugs – 20 dB to 30 dB NRR
- Passive earmuffs – 17 dB to 33 dB NRR
- Electronic earmuffs – 17 dB to 33 dB NRR – Provides additional noise management features
Note: Wearing earplugs inside your ear with earmuffs over it provides double hearing protection or an increased NRR score.
It’s pretty clear how prolonged loud noise can affect your ears. The loud bang of a firearm is enough to damage your hearing especially if there’s no hearing protection.
Can you tell us about some ear protection tips you practice? What do you think about hearing protection when shooting? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
- Proposed Law: Hearing Protection Act
- Handling A Gun Safely And Responsibly
- 11 Types Of Guns That Will Keep You Alive On Doomsday
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 16, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.